On the 15 of November Sup46 hosted an event with guest speaker Bill Buxton. Bill buxton is a Canadian computer scientist and designer. Well known for being a pioneer in the human-computer interaction field.

Bill told about what he learned in the field of technological innovation. He started with the Edison myth. Everybody thinks Edison invented electricity, but he says this is a myth. Edison bought a lot of inventions and patented them. So, he put his name on the invention and hope that the inventions would become a success.

According to Buxton, Innovation has a long nose: technological innovations do not move fast. Most of the techniques used in the 1 billion industries are invented at least 20 years ago. The invention of these techniques are under the radar for a lot of years, till the market is matured and prepared for the use of the invention. A great example of this phenomena is the capacity multi-touch. Buxton and a team of engineers developed this technique in 1984. Apple used this technique for the first time in their iPhones and iPods that came out in 2007. Steve Jobs said during the keynote that Apple came up with a new technology and that it would become the next big thing (the Steve Jobs myth.)

Nowadays students and people are told to come up with the next big thing and capture the market. As Buxton says, this is all a lie and people are destined to fail if they believe in this myth. But how should we innovate?

  • Prospecting:
    • Look around. What kind of products were produced in the past, what kind of technologies were used(, but not anymore), what products are on the market, what inventions are done, and what technologies exist?
  • Mining
    • Filter on which ideas, inventions or technologies could be useful.
  • Refining
    • Use the found invention(s) to come up with a new product.
  • Goldsmithing
    • Bill Buxton: ‘Making the product worth more than its weight in gold.’

In conclusion, it is really important to know your history and look around.


One last question arises, what is going to be the next big thing according to Bill Buxton?

A lot of the devices and products used nowadays are not connected at the moment. All the product are used on its own. Bill Buxton said that the step in innovation will be that all the devices used will synergies. It is important that the product will work on its own, but at the moment you come close or use another device they will connect. The devices should complement each other’s usage. For example: somebody is on the phone and the person has to leave for work. The moment the person enters their car and start it, the phone will connect to the car. The call switches to the hands free set in the car. The person is then allowed to drive and can go on with the call without interruptions.

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